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Published: November 17th 2011
After our amazing adventures in Northern Thailand, we spent a couple low key days in Bangkok to rest up for the last month of our travels. At the end of stay in Bangkok, we visited the famous Golden Buddha, that is 3m tall, 5.5 ton of solid gold! I think it truly means something to say, after allll the Buddha statues we have seen, that this was an impressive statue! We purchase a couple small Buddha statues and then head to the train station, which we take to the airport. From there we board a flight to the island of Penang in Malaysia. We have to catch a bus into Georgetown and from there we walk to find a hotel. We choose The Traveller's Lodge (22RM for a double bed, fan room with shared bath. Although this was a good price, later that night, we (or specifically Mike) would be cursing our thriftiness as he was attacked by bed bugs/mosquitos. Sleeping right beside him, I was completely unharmed by the bugs and I can honestly say, I'm happy that they didn't like me! Despite this, we stay at the same hotel for our 3 nights in Penang. To help the bug
problem, we burn mosquito coils in our windowless room all night, which keeps the bugs away but leaves us groggy from breathing smoky, poison-filled air all night. lose-lose
Our first night in Malaysia we fall in love with their food court-style dining. We eat at Red Dragon Food Paradise, which features almost any different food you can imagine under one roof! It's like a food court, except you order your food, sit down and they serve you when it's ready! We have duck noodle soup and wonton soup with rice - yum! As we are settling in to our new surroundings, we also come to realize that, being a Muslim nation, beer is rare and therefore expensive! Now, when I say expensive, I mean about 5$ for a large bottle, which is still cheap by Canadian standards, but 5$ could feed us for a whole day in Thailand and here it gets us 1 beer to share! Yikes, the wallet will take a beating here!
Our next day in Malaysia begins on a rough note with Mike's eye swollen from the bed bugs. We have some strong coffee and a good breakfast to get going and then spend
the day walking around the city. Georgetown is filled with UNESCO heritage sites - lots of old-style architecture and really pretty, old buildings. At For Cornwallis we check out some old canons but nothing very spectacular.
Little India is the place to be in Georgetown! Every shop is blaring Bollywood music and the colours and smells are intoxicating! What a treat for the senses! This place is so full of life! We stop off at the largest mosque in Penang, and get lucky because the guard is feeling generous and gives us a private tour of the place! As per the custom, I have to put on a robe to cover my body when inside the mosque. He takes us everywhere except the centre prayer area, which is only for prayer. There is a separate prayer area for women off to the side and it is about 1/20 the size of the men's prayer area...I wonder why...He shows us the prayer schedule and how it changes every day. They pray 5x per day and on this day it was 5:47am, 1:07pm, 16:25, 19:13 and 20:00. Now that is commitment, folks! The mosque itself is beautiful, mostly white with some
gold decor, understated yet grand.
We want to visit the Periwinkle Mansion, which is exactly what it sounds like, a purple mansion, but it is closed by the time we get there. From the gates we can just see it, and yes, it is indeed and very purple large house! We continue to visit temples (Hainan, the Goddess of Mercy) and more historical buildings.
After our little visit to Little India we are craving Indian food so we go to a Punjabi restaurant for mutton masala and chicken tikka masala with naan and strawberry lassi! YUM! After dinner it starts raining, then storming so we hang out in the lounge at our hotel and play cards.
The next morning we have breakfast at the hotel next to ours (Oriental Hotel) with a very friendly owner, who might have learned English in Australia and said 'cheers' after every single sentence he said. It was fun!
With the hotel owner's advice in hand we take the bus bound for Air Itam to see Malaysia's largest Buddhist temple - Kek Lok Si Temple. This place is huuuuge and aweeeesome! The path up to the temple is lined with souvenir
shops and it opens up to a big pond filled with more turtles than should ever be in a space that small. Turtles are good luck though, so the locals love it!
On the temple grounds is a stunning white pagoda that we climb to get amazing views of the rest of the temple grounds and Georgetown city in the distance. At every floor of the pagoda is a shrine to someone and lots of Buddha statues. After checking out the rest of the main level of the temple, including countless more Buddha statues, we ride the inclined lift to the top to see the humungous Goddess of Mercy statue, which is quite impressive! To save 2RM, we walk back down rather than take the lift, and failing to find a place that looks safe enough to eat at, we catch the bus back to town for lunch. We also wanted to visit Penang Hill, which is supposed to have great views and nice houses, but the funicular that takes you up there was under construction and the only other way to get up was via an expensive four-wheeler-type vehicle ride.
We spend our afternoon at Batu Ferringhi,
a small beach town 20km from Georgetown. The beach is nothing special but we relax and swim and watch some tourists try parasailing, which was fun until one sail almost crash landed right on top of us!! As the sun was going down, we are trying to choose a spot to eat dinner when a huge storm rolled in! We end up racing through town to the food centre which is covered, and make it just in time for the thunder to roll and the lightning to strike! We enjoy some spicy Tom Yam fried rice and a roti with banana, chocolate sauce and ice cream for dessert!!!! We hope to catch some action at the night market, but most of the shops are closed due to the weather. We grab a bus back to Georgetown and get ready to leave first thing in the morning, bound for Cameron Highlands.
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